“Les Miserables” is one of my favorite stories. I thought I fell in love with “Les Mis” (forget the full name, no one can pronounce it anyway) after watching the 1998 film production starring Liam Neeson, but only after reading the print version of the time-honored classic did I experience my true love affair with the story. While the Neeson film does justice to the book and story, so much more is revealed in each character, story line and plot in the pages of the book itself.
Although it seems as though Christmas was just upon us, we are preparing to enter the season of Lent in the church. Ash Wednesday will be celebrated Feb. 13 this year. The day marks the beginning of Lent, a forty-day period of time in which we are called upon to prepare ourselves, through penitence and fasting, for Easter, the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How could it be the flu? After all he had gotten a flu shot. The Visiting Nurses said for vulnerable people the extra strength type of vaccine is a good idea. Somehow the germs got through the invisible barrier and now the nagging cough keeps him awake all night, interrupting his routine.
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed." — Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. There seems to be some misunderstanding as to the difference between a spiritual gift and a natural ability. We are all born with a natural ability to be good at something — chef, preacher, administrator, baseball player, sheriff, US President, etc. — if we work hard to develop the natural gift given to us in our genes, so–to-speak. A spiritual gift is not something we develop on our own. It is given to us from the outside, a source that transcends the human mind.
“Looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays.” – The annoying, nameless, secretary in the movie “Office Space.” The above quote changed my path in life. “Office Space” is about three men who work for a computer software company and they hate their jobs so much they decide to rip off the company they work for.
The evangelical pastor chosen to give the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration withdrew from the ceremony Thursday after remarks surfaced that he made two decades ago condemning the gay rights movement. The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta said in a statement he withdrew because it was likely that the "prayer I would offer will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration." Addie Whisenant, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the committee had chosen Giglio because of his work to end human trafficking. Giglio organizes the Passion evangelical conferences that draw tens of thousands of young people. "We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural," Whisenant said in a statement.
It was during one of our Wednesday night youth meetings that I had at our little town church in Texas “that God showed me how awesome he truly is.” It was a cool damp evening and we were waiting for one of the youth’s to join us, he usually came to the meeting on time but seemed to be late this particular night.
There is a lot of anticipation for Christmas to arrive in less than a week. Children as well as adults get excited about receiving gifts under the tree from those they love and also in giving gifts to others. Just over 2,000 years ago the greatest gift that could ever be given arrived in a stable behind an inn in Bethlehem in Judea. The gift was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feed trough. The gift was announced to shepherds watching out for predators at night as the sheep slept. After the announcement to the shepherds of the birth of a Savior they decided to go into Bethlehem and find this new Savior. The story says they hurried to find him.
Titus 2:11-13: "11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." The weeks before Christmas! In North America it’s business as usual, as people fight the traffic and the crowds, frantically scurrying from mall to mall, looking for that last-minute gift idea. It seems we have developed modern traditions for the Christmas holiday like rushing, stress and overspending. One website even suggests the following natural remedies to help people cope with the stress of Christmas:
Changes are underway at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace, located at 657 Green Street in Craig. The congregation has not had a full time pastor for quite some time, and two Episcopal priests and one Episcopal deacon were filling in until the services of a full time pastor could be obtained. A committee of parishioners from both St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs and from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace in Craig met to form a Mission Partnership Agreement between the two parishes, whereby the two parishes would split my time between them. My time would be split with two-thirds spent in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church/Lutheran Church of Grace, and one-third spent with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs. This Mission Partnership Agreement would be beneficial to both parishes, and the ability to enhance the Episcopal/ELCA Church presence throughout the Yampa Valley region would also be increased. The two parishes formally agreed to this Partnership and it was effective on July 1, 2012.
As I have prayed many times asking God to heal my eyes. I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve cried and none of it seems to work. Every time I have a bad day trying to see I say to God, ‘OK, let’s have a talk,’ yet he seems to be silent on this matter. I really didn’t realize how much I would miss seeing the simple things such as the features of someone face, or knowing something is in front of me as my eyes struggle to see what it is. Is this fair? Heck no. Do I like what’s happen to my eye site? No.
Recently we upgraded the portion of our property that borders Ninth Street here in Craig. Where formerly large river rock bordered this section we now have a concrete sidewalk. I originally opposed this expenditure, citing our finite, limited resources and other projects screaming for priority. Even though the project was promised to receive discounts from local suppliers for materials and much of the labor would be donated I still questioned the need, timing and wisdom of making a new sidewalk a priority. My mind (and heart) was changed as I listened to numerous members of our church talk about the unsightly river rock which does not fit the style of the rest of our landscape now, the inability to walk on it or use it and the opportunity to “give a gift” to the community in a safe passage off a busy street setting the precedent for other property owners to do the same when changing or upgrading their property adjacent to Ninth Street.
This week I received a well-timed message on Facebook. It had been a long day of meetings and I wasn’t overly excited about the challenges ahead of me the next day. The message was from a former Young Lifer and he thanked me for walking alongside him and how much he appreciated it now that he was at a different stage in life. I write this not to brag about how great I am, but because it sufficiently lead me into some thoughts on how October is pastor appreciation month. Webster defines a pastor as “a person authorized to conduct religious ownership.” The definition fits our modern idea of the word, but biblically, “pastor” has more to do with compassion than authority.
Thousands of conservative Christians gathered Saturday on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to pray for the future of the United States in the weeks before the presidential election. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at "The America for Jesus 2012" prayer rally. Robertson, a former Republican candidate for president, called the election important, but didn't mention either major political party or candidate by name.
I have dealt a lot recently with people that seem to either have no hope or have what I would call displaced hope. By that I mean they are hopeful that the economy will turn around, that they will be able to find a job, that the election will bring a change or no change to the presidency, that they will be able to be well physically, that peace will be in their home and their relationships, and that their life will get better in general. We all seek a certain level of comfort, safety, and peace, in our lives and that is quite natural. As I reflect on God’s word the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” In other words Paul is stating that we must not only have hope in our relationship with Christ now, today, to get us through this tough spot, but also for the future, the promise of eternal life and rest.